I'm honored to introduce our final new cast member on the Jesus Blog, Rafael Rodríguez. Rafael and I go way back. As a transfer Sophomore, I took a Hermeneutics course in which an upperclassman was filling in for the professor. Rafael was that upperclassman, so I suppose you could say that I'm actually a former student of Rafael's!
Since that time, we have become great friends and so I've had a front-row seat to see him rise from someone who was giving undergrad lectures while an undergrad to one of the most exciting and brilliant New Testament scholars out there. Rafael has a distinct gift for reaching into a discourse, finding its beating heart, and then ripping it out and putting it on full display in such a way that makes readers wonder if, in reality, the discourse has been misguided this entire time. Doubt me? Read his chapter on the criterion of embarrassment in Jesus, Criteria, and the Demise of Authenticity. (Yes, I confess bias since I was one of the editors, but I can also say that we approached Rafael about that chapter for a reason.) One can agree or disagree with him on the criterion of embarrassment (I agree), but there's no doubt now that Rafael's treatment has surpassed John Meier's as the gate through which one must pass if he or she wants to comment on this criterion.
But Rafael's contributions have not been limited to historical Jesus research. He's written a wonderfully accessible introduction to oral tradition and the New Testament and his first monograph, Structuring Early Christian Memory, is the first sustained treatment of the Jesus tradition that brings oral tradition studies into discussion with social memory theory and one of the first two English monographs on social memory theory in New Testament studies. Of late, Rafael has been in Pauline studies, having published a study on the audience of Romans (If You Call Yourself a Jew).
As should be clear from this all-too-brief description, Rafael is not afraid to tackle some of the big questions. We couldn't be happier to welcome him to the Jesus Blog and look forward to his contributions.